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What is Nursing Home Neglect?

There are over 15,000 nursing home facilities across the U.S., and more than a million elders reside within those facilities. While nursing homes, assisted living facilities (ALF), and skilled nursing facilities (SNF) serve elders who require care, they also want to make a profit. Sometimes a facility may skimp on costs for medical devices, staff, and security. If negligence results in an injury or illness, the nursing home resident’s family may be entitled to seek compensation by taking legal action.

Doctors, nurses, staff, security, and facility administrators are responsible for their residents. They should be held accountable if they have failed in their responsibilities. This may be easier said than done, however. You must hire a nursing home negligence attorney to represent your case.

As your attorneys, O’Malley Tunstall will attempt to build a case that defends your loved one from further harm, holds the guilty accountable, and attempts to prevent more harm from befalling other seniors. To do so, our lawyers will gather evidence, review relevant senior living documents, examine medical reports, interview witnesses, and help file a lawsuit.

Depending on the facts of your case, a nursing home negligence attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against the facility, its administrator, a staff member, or multiple liable parties. It’s possible to recover compensation for personal injury, medical bills, wrongful death, lost income, mental anguish, and emotional pain and suffering.

How Common is Negligence in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home neglect and elder abuse are shockingly, tragically common in American nursing home facilities. In recent years, one in four nursing home residents over age 60 have reported injuries caused by neglect or elder abuse.

In private interviews, more than half of the nursing home caregivers and staff have said that they committed abuse in the past year. And, as these facilities become understaffed and overworked, these numbers have regrettably gotten worse due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Are Common Signs of Neglect and Neglectful Environments?

There are certain warning signs to be watchful for if you suspect that your loved one has been neglected while under the care of nursing home staff.

Common indicators of physical or mental neglect include:

  • Abandonment.
  • Anxiety and an inability to remain still.
  • Bed sores (also known as pressure ulcers).
  • Broken bones.
  • Bruising easily.
  • Dehydration.
  • Depression.
  • Dirty residency.
  • Elopement.
  • Falls.
  • Frequent illness.
  • Incidents of choking.
  • Inexplicable weight loss.
  • Infections and sepsis.
  • Insect infestations.
  • Lack of adequate heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.
  • Lost or missing medical equipment, wheelchairs, and walkers.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Missed taking their medication.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Restraint bruises.
  • Soiled clothing or bedding.
  • Sudden hair loss.
  • Unclean water.
  • Unexplained injuries, cuts, and bruises.
  • Unsafe conditions and lax security.
  • Unusual bad smells.
  • Victims of abuse and neglect are prone to mood swings and outbursts of anger. Some may go in the opposite direction and become withdrawn, even going so far as to stop talking.
  • Wrong medication or medical treatment.
  • Wrongful death.

Nursing home staff and administrators may also be guilty of financial neglect. When an elderly person’s financial responsibilities are not met, such as paying their residency expenses or insurance bills, it could be a sign of neglect. Remember to review all financial statements very closely.

To limit abuse and neglect, visit the facility often and always come unannounced. If you cannot visit regularly, consider appointing a guardian to go in your place.

Who Can Sue for Nursing Home Negligence?

The individual who chooses to sue a nursing home for negligence is typically the family member who initially delivered their elder to the facility for care. However, this does not mean that others cannot bring a case against a negligent nursing home if they have a genuine interest in the life and well-being of the senior citizen receiving care. Other parties that may file a suit against the nursing home and its staff include the victim’s spouse, children, parents, siblings, or dependents.

How to File a Lawsuit Against a Nursing Home?

If you believe your loved one’s condition results from neglect, you should first file a complaint with the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation (NCDHHS). You may reach them by phone or through their website.

To file a successful lawsuit for neglect, you must show that your elderly family member befell hardships or injuries due to the negligence they’ve endured. Your lawsuit must prove that those responsible for your elder’s care breached that duty of care and that the breach caused actual damages to befall the elderly person.

No lawsuit’s financial reward can ever undo the suffering endured, but it can provide some peace and consolation. It may also force the facility to perform to a higher standard in the future.

Contact the Law Offices of O’Malley Tunstall to Schedule a Free Consultation

Nursing home neglect and elder abuse are two of the most heinous injustices that might ever happen to our senior citizens. Sadly, neglect and abuse in nursing homes are far too common. If your loved one has suffered under the care of a nursing home, our lawyers can help you seek compensation from the liable parties.

The Law Offices of O’Malley Tunstall is home to two of Eastern North Carolina’s most respected legal figures, Susan M. O’Malley and Joseph P. Tunstall. As your legal representatives, we will bring our expensive experience to your case in pursuit of maximum compensation.

For more information about our compassionate legal services, please call our law offices for a free case evaluation. (919) 277-0150.